With pretty much zero to no chance of organising a car meet legally, enjoying the car life has been a somewhat solitary affair for the past (and future) few months. While driving with a posse of friends is fun, solo drives does allow one the freedom in choosing whichever road to go down, whenever. Incidentally, it also allows one to select from a myriad of choices, where to stop for a quick morning beverage at the end of exercising one’s machine.
Not all cafes and “kopi tiams” are created equal for petrol heads though, as we (mostly) have a particular set of requirements when it comes to choosing a location for a spot of “Car & Kopi”. Availability of safe parking spots, early opening hours of said establishments and how well we can gaze over at our mechanical pride and joys while sipping our coffee all play a part in our decision making processes. So, in no particular order, may I present a few of my usual locales, rated in the aforementioned peculiarities. Given that I’m not a food critic nor a “foodie influencer”, I shall leave the gastronomical critiques out of the equation (it’s pretty hard to go horrendously wrong nowadays anyway). With that in mind, here are 5 spots (in no particular order) to enjoy your early morning Car & Kopi. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll encounter other like minded individuals as well!
1: Glass Roasters Faber Drive
108 Faber Drive, Weekend hours 9am-1030pm.
Opening hours: ★★★☆☆
Located a (relative) stone’s throw away from the South Buona Vista 峠, Glass Roasters’ opening hours are slightly later for us early morning drivers but still acceptable at 9am. It might get a little warm if you choose to sit outside so I’d recommend getting a space inside if you can.
Plenty of choice street-side parking spots early in the morning and the best part? It’s all free!
With parking lots lined up right outside the cafe, ogling at la bella macchina is a cinch.
A fine space to relax in with friendly staff but space is a little tight and with nearby residents popping by this quaint little cafe shortly after opening, there could be a little pressure to give up your seat (being the socially gracious people we are) once you’ve finished your latte. If you manage to grab a seat on a less busy morning, chill away.
2: Glass Roasters Mohamed Sultan
18 Mohamed Sultan Rd, Weekend hours 8am-1030pm.
Opening hours: *Update! ★★★☆☆*
*Update* Since writing this post, Glass Roasters at Mohd. Sultan have changed their opening time from a perfect 8am to a more average 9am, which means it is no longer that great for early drivers.
Operated by the same folks as the Faber Hills brand, this brand of Glass Roasters located in a much more centralised location opens at 8am, perfect for winding down after a drive through town.
Parking lots are plentiful but spaces within viewing range from the cafe are limited with only a single choice lot located right outside the cafe usually taken up unless you arrive really early. Usual street-side parking fees apply.
You’re in luck if you manage to bag the single lot right outside the cafe, otherwise, you’ll have to settle for gazing at your automotive boo across the road.
Unlike the Faber Drive branch, this Glass Roasters is much more capacious and comfortable enough to spend quite some time in, as long as you remember to top-up your parking fees. There’s not much of a food menu here but bonus points for being located opposite Fine Dining Bakery (opens at 9am) for that morning JDM bread run.
3: Arabica Arab Street
56 Arab St, Weekend hours 8am-6pm.
Opening hours: ★★★★★
Opening at 8am, Arabica at Arab Street is also spot-on for those wanting to grab an early morning latte after an early driving session.
Getting a good spot here is pretty much a matter of luck as there are only 2 choice lots right outside the cafe and with the nearby eateries attracting a sizeable early morning crowd, arriving at opening time does not automatically guarantee a lot. Once again, usual street-side parking fees apply.
An excellent view, provided you manage to snag a 1 of the 2 choice lots located right outside, otherwise, no dice. There is a “not too legal” space behind the 2 lots where you can fit a car, but parking is at one’s own peril and best left for quick tarpau pickups.
Unfortunately space is a premium here so if you come late, prepare to wait. If you’re early, there are a good number of seats both inside and out, but people do drop by rather quickly after opening and with rather limited seats available, you wouldn’t want to look like a prick nursing an empty cup of latte while other patrons looking at your table the same way you look at a set of Ohlins (or maybe KW V3s depending on your kink) on Black Friday. Arabica does have another larger brand over at Holland Village but parking is a challenge and I hear it gets even more crowded than Arab Street. The Changi Airport Jewel Branch? Opens at 11am, which unfortunately is too late for most of us early risers.
4: Dempsey Hill
Dempsey Rd, Weekend hours 8am onwards.
Opening hours: ★★★★★
Really needing no introduction here with a number of cafes situated on the “Hill” opening from 8am onwards offering full breakfast menus, it’s no wonder Dempsey Hill is The location for our car meets.
With a vast number of wide parking spaces available in the morning, you’d be pretty much spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a slot for your car. And yes, it’s free.
Totally dependent on which establishment you choose but with a couple of places offering outdoor/window seats, there’s a high chance you’d get to admire your pride and joy while having your breakfast. Also, on most weekend mornings, there’ll usually be something interesting lurking in the carpark for auto otakus to hunt for.
It might not be as interesting or specialised as the latest cafe in town but being Dempsey Hill, you can easily spend a good amount of time here comfortably. Prices here are slightly higher than the usual coffee joints but that is pretty much expected for this part of town.
5: Killiney Kopitiam Purvis Street
30 Purvis St, Weekend hours 7am-7pm.
Opening hours: ★★★★★
With an opening time of 7am, the OG location for our Cars & Kopi meets is the only place to go for those who are on the go much earlier than most.
While there might be plenty of street-side parking slots early in the morning, these spaces do get filled up really quickly. Once past the 8am mark, parking spots become quite limited. Keep a look out for the choice lots located at either the back or front of each line of parking spaces as not everyone here is an automotive aficionado with properly equipped parallel parking skills. I’ve seen plenty of near misses and the occasional bump. You’ve been warned. There are of course other Killineys but this one has the most number of lots.
Congratulations, you arrived early and managed to get a good parking spot! There are a number of lots here allowing you to keep a lookout for your baby while you sip on your Kopi (or Teh-peng).
It’s a Killiney Kopitiam, what ambience were you expecting? That said, there’s not much pressure to leave after finishing your brekkie, there’s a full menu of affordable food choices and air-conditioning (with a strong hint of incense). If Killiney isn’t quite your jam, I hear pretty awesome things about Clinton Street Baking Company next door who have recently changed their weekend opening hours from 9am to 8am. While I’ve yet to try it for myself, the constant early morning queues I usually see on weekends sure make it tempting. Maybe next round?